I stand barefoot in my kitchen with windows open and music blasting throughout the house. With each chop of the knife, I can hear the laughter of my kids pierce through the music. They’ve been playing in the backyard for hours.
My youngest comes bursting into the kitchen, “Mommy, I want to help! Can I help, Mommy?” Sometimes, I want to say no. I like having quiet time as I cook. Yet, most of the time, I let out a resounding yes. These moments are special as well.
He rushes to the bathroom to wash up. As he returns, he thrusts his dripping hands toward my nose. It’s never enough to believe or even see the wet hands to know they’re clean; I must always smell them. I guess that’s a good thing with this adventurous boy.
Upon approval, my child pulls a chair to the counter top. He becomes my sous chef as we prepare for tomorrow night’s dinner celebration. We are expecting a number of guests, and the guest of honor (his sister) has requested her favorite dish: Spaghetti with Meatballs.
As I double check the ingredients on my recipe cards, I travel back in time. I’m standing in my grandma’s kitchen. Just a young lady without a care in the world. Nonetheless, I am eager to learn how to cook my Grandma’s famous spaghetti and meatballs. One day, my future family will enjoy this meal as much as I do.
Grandma is standing over a large pot in her small kitchen with me and my sisters surrounding her. She has no recipe card. Yet, she knows exactly which ingredients must go into the pot. She begins pouring liquids in and scraping veggies off the cutting board.
A few times, my sisters and I ask her to pause, so we can record every detail. We don’t want to miss a beat. I write down each step fervently. I even note how finely she chops the green pepper and how much herbs she sprinkles atop the bubbling sauce.
Back in my kitchen, I hold the same recipe card in my hand. The memory of standing in my grandma’s kitchen is even sweeter now. She is no longer with us. For the many ways she taught me, loved me, and took time with me, I am thankful.
Heading Into the Holidays
This one moment in the kitchen serves as a great reminder to me on how I want to relish the holiday season. Our time and relationships are a gift from God. In recent years, my husband and I have resolved to focus more on experience than stuff. Toys get played with and pushed aside after a short time, but creating lasting memories is priceless.
Instead of rushing from store to store, I want to slow down and cherish special moments with friends and family. I want to exchange laughter and memories more than material possessions. I want to place value on what matters most: Faith, Family, and Loving Others.
Over the next few weeks, we will have decisions to make in how we spend our time.
Here are three things we must do this holiday season:
1. Take in Sweet Moments with Loved Ones
Our calendars fill up quickly this time of year. Shopping with friends, holiday parties, our kids’ Christmas performances. Festive activities mark this special season. It’s exciting and busy. But to fully enjoy the days ahead, we cannot stay in a constant hurried state. I encourage you to slow down and come together as a family intentionally. Let’s create space in our schedules to just be with the ones we cherish.
Maybe this means breaking out board games after dinner or setting aside one night to snuggle up and watch your favorite Christmas movies. Sit around a fire pit and make s’mores. Or grab mugs of hot chocolate and take your kids for a drive around the neighborhood to see Christmas-lit houses.
Whatever you do, be fully present in the moment. Take in the sights and sounds of your children. They will never be this age again. Next year may look a little different. Your kids will be older and have new interests. Treasure them in this season.
As I reflect on Scripture, I love reading how Mary cherished in her heart what was going on around her. Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” She had just become the mother of the Savior of the world. A bit overwhelming, perhaps. Yet, she peacefully took in every detail. Mary lived fully in the moment and treasured what was happening in her life. Let’s do the same.
2. Honor Family Traditions
Do you have Christmas traditions your family looks forward to every year? Take time to explain how the tradition began. Describe what is was like for you as a child getting excited to partake in the same activities. Exchange memories of relatives who participated in the festivities of years past. I bet your kids will enjoy learning more about you in this way.
Sharing stories is also a great way to honor family members who are no longer with us. Talk specifically about the special moments you shared with that person. Let their memory live on and share the legacy they left behind. Romans 12:10 says, “Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.”
In thinking about my Grandma, I recall the many years my cousins and I spent at her house over Christmas break. Grandma would bake holiday cookies with us. We looked forward to it every year. Now each year, my mom hosts our annual “Cookie Day” at her house with all the grandkids. I enjoyed this tradition with my grandmother, and it’s neat to see my kids enjoy it with theirs. Maybe you would like to start a new tradition. Do you have a special childhood memory that your kids would enjoy? What would be meaningful to your family? Take time to think about it and try something new this year. If it’s a big hit with your family, let it continue in years to come.
3. Remember People Beyond Your Circle
People matter to God. That’s the very reason He sent His Son on a starry night to become our Savior. As we hit the streets this holiday season, let’s be the ones to not rush by. Instead of seeing a crowd of people, let’s look at the individual. Hold the door open for the elderly couple. Look the cashier in the eyes and ask how her day is going. Pick up the dropped sippy cup for the weary mother whose toddler is out of sorts. Smile and engage in conversation as you stand in line.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have something far greater than money can buy. You have the light of life!
Let’s be the light this world so desperately needs. What better way to honor our Savior than by seeing the people around us and showing God’s love to them in easy, practical ways.
As we enter into this holiday season, I pray you will experience precious times with your family. In those intentional moments, may your heart be full from the love you share and the memories you create.
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